An unknown author wrote, “Real treasure lies not in what that can be seen, but what cannot be seen.” We possess this strangely cockeyed perception that we must be able to see something in order to treasure it. More than that, we think that we have to be able to somehow hold it in our hands. And then, in far too many cases we think we have to be able to own it in order to treasure it. But we rarely consider that we can treasure what we can’t see. In fact, it may well be that to treasure something in a truly treasured manner it must be entirely elusive; it must be something that we can’t see, that we can’t hold and that we can’t own. When we possess something, the fact that we can possess it diminishes its worth. Being unable to possess something suggests that it has a value beyond us or beyond anyone else for that matter. Real treasures are elusive because if they’re not, they don’t have the value inherent within them to genuinely be categorized as treasures.
Sparrows and a Clapboard Garage
Every spring the sparrows came back to the old garage; something like coming back to a comfy, old friend. Upon their return their boundless energy and contagious enthusiasm seemed wildly intoxicating; vibrant, vibrating and filled with all the energy of spring. I often wondered if they had spent the cold, gray months of winter in a nearly uncontrollable anticipation of greeting their old friend once winter had rolled off the horizon of spring.
Sometimes in life there seems to be a subtle yet wonderfully warm camaraderie of sorts that develops between things you’d never think would or could be connected like that. That seemed to explain the quiet, entirely unspoken kind of relationship that existed between the old garage and the sparrows. They seemed like long seasoned friends that didn’t need to say much because the bond that they shared spoke more than words ever could. The old clapboard garage and the house sparrows were each warmed, gently magnified, and beautifully enhanced by the other. Each was a treasure embraced as a treasure.
The sparrows would glide up between the heavy wooden doors and slip by the sturdy steel tracks that they ran on; seemingly nestling into the garages soft, clapboard embrace. Every spring the sparrows would settle in and nest right above the heavy wooden doors, tucked just inside, at the thin edge of the garage attic. There was too much love and warmth in the old garage, so there were usually two or three nests tucked above the wooden doors. You could see the sparrows incessantly coming and going, but you couldn’t see what they were doing. They were tireless; transporting bits of straw and brown grasses into the garage; building a place to birth the treasures of the next generation. Within moments they would poke out elated heads, and then burst into flight with empty beaks. In no time they would return with more strands of grass, or bits of weed, or cottony fibers, or discarded pieces of string . . . over and over.
Within weeks the sound of new life could be heard coming from above the old, wooden doors. Their chirps and peeps would be shushed when anyone approached; mother’s teaching their little ones that life is a treasure, but it can also be filled with danger. These little, hidden treasures would become ever louder as they grew, strengthened and eventually sought the independence of flight. Before the close of spring they would be launched in a gangly kind of flight. They would explore the places close to the garage, bursting into uncoordinated flight but never wandering too far way. Life called them out ever further from the clapboard garage until they were gone in summer’s embrace.
Treasures are hidden away in quiet places. They speak in soft tones and often become silenced as we approach. They don’t beg to be found, but embrace us if we do happen to find them. They are the product of completely ordinary circumstances unfolding in wonderfully extraordinary ways. They are found hidden in the nooks and crannies of our existence; all around us if we quit allowing our attention to be captivated by that which is noisy and listen for that which is quiet and still.
The Product of Unexpected and Loving Camaraderie
Treasures are a product of treasures. Real treasure is the product of lives shared, experiences intermingled, roads merged into single lanes, sacrifices jointly experienced, the soulful laughter of two hearts in beat with each other, and lives expended in unity. Treasures are the step-child of lives lived out in shared experiences that dramatically multiply both the experience and persons in a manner geometrically beyond anything the persons could hope to experience alone. Treasures rise out of the relationship of people who are intimately woven together by the threads of time and the needle of experience.
Always Creating and Never Preserving
Treasures are not stagnant. They’re not to be preserved as in the preserving they will most certainly wither and they will perish. Real treasures begat other treasures. Real treasures are designed to perpetuate other treasures. Sometimes the perpetuation involves the replication of the original treasure, and sometimes the replication is something entirely different but just as wonderful. Treasures are ingenuously and deliberately crafted to enrich the world. If one thing is for certain, they are not designed to be encased in the lifeless museums of our making, or the vaults we create to keep them to ourselves. It’s in their multiplication that the cold of life’s winters are forced off the edge of the calendar.
Sown to the World
It’s our natural inclination to preserve treasures; to corral them and box them and seal them tight. We assume that unless they’re preserved they’ll be lost, which is entirely contradictory. In fact, they are designed to be launched and thrown out to the horizons of each of our lives regardless of whatever the season is that we might be in. Authentic treasures permeate our world; they gain wings of their own and they disburse so that they might reproduce in other places and in other lives. The stuff of treasure is irrepressibly infectious and prudently wild; intent on enrichment whenever and wherever it can. We must work against our own inclinations and toss treasures out to the world around us.
It would be tremendously wise to rethink the concept of treasure in your own life. What you may be holding onto may not be treasure at all. In fact, if you’re “holding” onto it, it’s not.